MMDA's EDSA traffic czar: Transport crisis claims unfair, exaggerated

MMDA's EDSA traffic czar: Transport crisis claims unfair, exaggerated
Passengers exit the Recto station of LRT 2 in Manila as the line started partial operations between Cubao and C.M. Recto yesterday following suspension of trips early October.
The STAR / Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines— An official of the Metro Manila Development Authority on Sunday lamented the claims that Metro Manila is experiencing transportation crisis amid heavy traffic and partial operations on the Light Rail Transit-2 line.

In an interview on DZMM, EDSA Special Traffic and Transport Zone chief Bong Nebrija sided with presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, who earlier said there is no transportation crisis because, he argued, there is no paralysis of the capital's transportation,

Nebrija said, though, that like Panelo, he acknowledges the hardship of people taking public transportation.

"Kung sabihin natin na transport crisis, It is not yet in that level na sabihin nating transport crisis just because nag-bog down yung LRT-2 and then lumabas na po yung issues na ‘yan," Nebrija said over a radio interview with DZMM.

(If we are going to say that it is a transport crisis. It is not yet at that level to be called a transport crisis just because the LRT-2 bogged down and these issues came out)

"I think it’s unfair [to] the government to say that, lalong lalo na yung administration na 'to has been very aggressive in investing in infrastructure at saka yung improvement ng ating transportation," he added.

(I think it’s unfair to the government to say that, especially because this administration has been very aggressive in investing in infrastructure at and on the improvement of our transportation)

Various sectors and lawmakers earlier claimed that there is a current transportation crisis in Metro Manila amid the displacement of thousands of commuters due to partial operations of the LRT-2 after an electrical fire.

The LRT-2, which carries approximately 200,000 passengers daily, runs from Recto Avenue in Manila to Santolan station in Marikina. 

Panelo earlier denied these claims and said there is no mass transportation crisis as he only sees traffic.

The presidential spokesperson, also the chief presidential legal counsel, last Friday, took the commute challenge and traveled almost four hours from his residence in Marikina City to Malacañang.

Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade, likewise, previously said transport crisis does not equate to mere transport woes and issues.

READ: DOTr chief: Having transport problems doesn’t mean ‘crisis’

Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran was also quoted is reports as saying mass transportation crisis is different from traffic crisis, clarifying that the two are interrelated.

Libiran said declaring mass transportation means the case is hopeless.

“It does not help manage public anxiety,” she said.

For his part, Nebrija then defended the government efforts saying the transport claims is unfair and exaggerated. He cited that construction of infrastructures are underway and those are “for the good of the transportation sector.”

Among the projects he mentioned are the extension of the LRT 1 and LRT 2, Metro Rail Transit 7, subway, Bus Rapid Transit, Skyway 3 as well as the modernization of Public Utility Jeep.

“’Yun po, ang ano lang po talaga it doesn’t come overnight talaga. Talaga pong medyo magsasakripisyo tayo na hintayin natin ang mga proyekto ito na matapos,” Nebrija said.

(That’s it. It’s just that it doesn’t come overnight. We really have to sacrifice and wait for these projects to finish)

“To say that at this time na halos malapit nang matapos ang mga ito, na sasabihin nating may transport crisis, I think it is exaggerated in a sense na wala naman po, gumagana naman po lahat ng trains natin," he added.

(To say that at this time that the projects are almost finished, to say that there’s transport crisis, I think it is exaggerated in a sense that there is none, our trains are all functional)

'There is a transport crisis'

Meanwhile,Vice President Leni Robredo said she agrees that there is a transportation crisis in Metro Manila.

She called on the government to prioritize fixing the mass tranpsortation system.

Robredo also said that disagrees with the suggestion to ban provincial buses to decongest EDSA because she said it affects the commuters.

"Kaya iyong pagsabing bus ban sa EDSA, nakakalungkot iyon, kasi parang... parang mas binibigyan mo ng... mas binibigyan mo ng puwang iyong comfort noong mga may-ari ng mga sasakyan. ‘Di ba dapat mas bigyan mo ng puwang iyong comfort ng mga walang sasakyan, na nagko-commute every day? Kasi ito naman iyong mas marami, eh. Ito iyong mas dumadaan sa matinding paghihirap," Robredo said on her weekly radio program.

(The bus ban on EDSA is saddening because you're giving more weight to the comfort of owners of vehicles. Shouldn't there be more allowance for the comfort of those who don't have vehicles and commute every day? Because there are more of them. These are the people who suffer the most.)

Amid the debate on supposed existence of transport crisis, the LRT-2 is set to operate at an earlier time of 5 a.m. starting Monday as part of the partial operations from Cubao to Recto and back. —Rosette Adel

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